Lansing Ignite's Ricky Lopez-Espin suspended four games for abuse at fans

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News
Lansing Ignite play in USL League One, which is U.S. soccer's third tier.

Lansing Ignite forward Ricky Lopez-Espin has been handed a four-match ban and an undisclosed fine for what appear to be anti-gay comments made to fans during the USL League One team’s 2-1 loss at Greenville, S.C. on Saturday.

Lopez-Espin scored the Ignite’s lone goal in the 27th minute during the club's first defeat in the new third-tier league. His actions drew a sharp rebuke from the club’s owner and an apology from the player himself.

“I want to truly apologize for my actions in Greenville, specifically to those in the LGBTQ community,” Lopez-Espin wrote in a Twitter post. “This is not who I am & what I stand for. There is no excuse for the language that I used, and I have accepted the four-match ban and fine for my actions.”

It’s unclear when the interaction occurred or what exactly was said. Lansing went down to nine-men after two players, Tumi Moshobane and Ricardo Perez, were red carded after receiving their second yellows within five minutes of each other early in the second half of the match played before 4,014 spectators at Legacy Early College Stadium.

Lopez-Espin, 23, joined Lansing in March after spending last season with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, which selected him 33rd overall in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. The Miami native made eight appearances with the club’s USL affiliate Real Monarchs.

In college, Lopez-Espin netted 30 goals in 74 appearances with Creighton from 2014-17.

The Ignite, which won their inaugural match 3-2 at Richmond, will host Richmond in their home opener Saturday at Cooley Law School Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Twitter: @larryo1961